At the 2014 Literacy Research Association meeting in Dallas, TX I had the opportunity to facilitate and present in a “Pecha Kucha” style session. For those of you that are not familiar with pecha kucha, based on the Japanese for the sound of conversation, it is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format utilizes images more than words, keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events, keeps the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to present.
We organized our alternative session with with an introduction by the chair (10 minutes), in which she introduced the PK style and frame the research being presented. We held four presentations, each lasting 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Then the Chair held a brief question and answer session to ensure comprehension among the participants and provide an opportunity for their voices to be heard (10 minutes). We felt like this moment of “debrief” would allow people to catch their breath. This break was followed by the remaining four presentations, each lasting 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Finally, we wrapped up with a summary by the discussant (10 min) who will lead a question and answer period (15 min). The reason I’m sharing all of the timestamps for the session is that these conference sessions are given a finite amount of time. We needed to make sure we fit it all in.
Despite our plans, we learned a lot about what to do…and what not to do with a session like this. In the future, I think eight presentations was a bit much. The audience was left trying to catch their breath and make sense of what they just saw. Given the time constraints..in the future I would have all of the presenters create a screen capture of their sessions and post them online at a common website. Then in the session have the chair come out and basically explain to everyone “how” they should view the session…and what they should “think.” What I mean by this is that the audience should be told to just sit back, relax, and let the information wash over them. Don’t try and think, and debrief, and question like you would in a “normal” session. Just sit back and relax…and the info if already online for you to review and comprehend (in greater detail) later.
In terms of what I learned from developing, and delivering my own session was to keep it simple. In developing my slides, I tried to whittle down my points to the most simple elements. I used basic images that would provide me with a visual reminder of what to talk about. Another big factor…no transitions, no animations, nothing. Keep it simple. Also, I didn’t use a script. In my head I had two to three sentences that I would share to describe each slide, but nothing beyond that. I figured that adding in the extra second or two to have me read the script would kill the tempo.
I learned a lot from the experience…and would definitely do it again. As the Chair of the session (Kelly Chandler-Olcott) stated…”it’s the most frustrating…most liberating experience.”
You can find the video for the session available below. I also embedded the Google Presentation file that I used for the session. And…yes, I used Google Presentation for the talk. I just had a colleague advance the slides every 20 seconds…no matter what 🙂
Image CC by mattwileyart
Also published on Medium.